Local credit union gives $250,000 for FSCJ programs

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Jacksonville-based First Florida Credit Union committed $250,000 to Florida State College at Jacksonville for a speaker series and skills academy.

The FSCJ Business Speaker Series and the college’s Financial Skills Academy will be funded by the credit union over five years.

The speaker series will focus on entrepreneurship, taxes, health care, investing and similar topics and is open to FSCJ students as well as high school students, military personnel and other community groups. The series will run from fall 2017 to spring 2022.

The Financial Skills Academy is a free service for faculty and staff, offering four certification courses. Funding from FFCU will be used to expand the program.

“At First Florida, we are committed to enriching people every day – and that’s exactly what this grant aims to accomplish,” Lister said. “We are thrilled to work with FSCJ to educate local students and community members alike as they become the business leaders of tomorrow.”

Wells Fargo shuttering hundreds of branches as customers embrace mobile banking

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Wells Fargo plans to close 450 of its almost 6,000 branches nationwide as it cuts costs and adjusts to more customers banking outside a branch.

The bank, led by CEO Tim Sloan, said it cut 93 branches in the first half of this year, with more than half of those closures, 54, occurring in the second quarter. The pace will increase, with the bank expecting to shutter 200 branches this year and 250 in 2018.

But times are changing. The Philadelphia Business Journal published a cover story last week on banks pulling back from branches. The newspaper quoted a banking veteran who expects the number of bank branches nationally to be sliced in half within 10 years, with remaining locations taking up less space on average and offering more self-service features, including employee-less bank branches. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) is pioneering such branches.

Wells Fargo’s branch pruning garnered more headlines as details were revealed on where branch closures will occur. Wells said late Thursday that it hasn’t announced any Bay Area branch closings, pointing out that it’s actually opening a branch in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood on Aug. 7.

But such is not the case in nearby states.

Wells (NYSE: WFC) is closing five branches in New Mexico, where it hasn’t opened a new location since 2005, sister paper Albuquerque Business First reported Thursday.

The branch closures aren’t entirely unexpected since the bank is seeking to cut $2 billion in expenses by the end of 2018 to free up money for investing elsewhere in the business and then cut another $2 billion by the end of 2019 to boost profits.

The expense cuts occur in the wake of Wells Fargo’s fake accounts scandal and a changing banking landscape. Many bank customers prefer to handle more of their banking online, often over their mobile phones. May marked the first time that Wells had more mobile active customers than online active customers.

“Our physical distribution strategy is driven by customer behavior and market factors,” said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Edith Robles. “Our branch and ATM strategies reflect our customers’ migration to virtual channels. More transactions are occurring outside the branch and mobile continues to be the channel of choice for millions of our customers.”

Wells is also making progress in cutting its real estate costs beyond the branch network. The bank expects to save about $150 million through its ongoing site consolidation that will see office space usage decline by another 2 million square feet.

It appears no expense is going unexamined. Wells anticipates saving $200 million on travel this year.

The bank also reduced its workforce by 2,200 employees during the second quarter, although some of those cuts were likely through attrition.

Wells said its most recent visit and customer loyalty scores were at their highest level since the bank said last September that it would pay $185 million in regulatory fines for employees opening up to 2 million deposit and credit accounts without customers’ authorization.

That may help explain why Wells Fargo’s stock has also done relatively well, with shares changing hands at $55 Thursday, up more than 12 percent when compared to last year. Two Fed rate increases this year are also helping shares of Wells and other banks as loans reprice faster than the interest they pay on deposits.

Wells Fargo’s quarterly earnings also reflected some of the bank’s long-standing strategies. For instance, Wells pulled back on certain types of lending, citing increased competition that it says hurts credit standards.

The bank said auto loans fell 17 percent, or $2.5 billion, in the second quarter vs. this year’s first quarter as the bank tightened lending criteria.

Wells expects its auto lending to continue to decline in the second half of the year.

The nation’s largest commercial real estate lender saw those loans fall by $982 million in the second quarter from the first quarter.

“Our growth has been modestly below that of the industry for the first half of the year,” Shrewsberry said of its commercial lending business. “We’ve remained disciplined, adhering to our underwriting standards in a competitive market.”

The bank is taking steps to boost lending such as making interest-only jumbo mortgages to strong borrowers and testing credit card offers through digital channels.

The bank is also helping customers avoid overdrafts by introducing a zero balance email alert sent to an online banking customer during the day when their available balance is zero or negative.

Wells Fargo is also sharpening its focus on its core businesses and shedding some operations.

Earlier this month, Wells Fargo said it would sell its business focused on providing shareholder services to more than 1,200 corporate clients.

Wells Fargo Shareowner Services, based in suburban Minneapolis and employing 400 people, is being sold to Britain’s Equiniti Group for $227 million in a deal expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

In June, the bank sold its commercial insurance unit to USI Insurance Services. Last year, Wells sold its crop-insurance business for $1.05 billion to Zurich Insurance Group.

Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in Central Florida, with $6.76 billion in local deposits.

Genpact to open office in Jacksonville, hiring up to 200

(Courtesy of  Jacksonville.com)

A business services company is opening an office in Jacksonville, with plans to hire up to 200 people in its first year.

Genpact’s office will open next month in Capital Plaza office park on Deerwood Park Boulevard on the Southside. The company provides a variety of services across multiple industries.

But a spokeswoman said Wednesday that when the Jacksonville office opens, it will provide mortgage processing services for one particular client that she would not name.

The work will include processing, underwriting, closing and with quality assurance and HR positions.

The non-supervisory positions will average $53,000 a year, and some experience is required.

“The initial wave of hiring with be for those jobs,” said Gail Ferrari Marold, spokeswoman for the company. “But we plan to grow this center, especially after the first year, and adding more clients and other services.”

She said one round of hiring has been completed and that the company has offers out. The second round will begin the week of July 24 when the company will hold a job fair.

The company is listing jobs on its website, careers.genpact.com as well as Monster, indeed.com and CareerBuilder, but the second round has not been posted. Applications can be filed through any of those sites, she said.

The Jacksonville office will open July 24 with its first training classes.

The company made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. Mike Breen, senior director of the international department for JAXUSA Partnership, said it was that conference a year ago that he first made contact with Genpact.

He said he understood that six other cities were in the running for this office, but he didn’t know who they were.

Genpact was founded as a division of GE Capital in 1997, spun off in 2005 and went public in 2007. It now has more than 77,000 employees in more than 20 countries. It has 5,000 employees in the United States, but Jacksonville will be its first office in Florida.

“The Jacksonville office was agreed to with this client,” Marold said. “But it’s really about the very favorable business climate, its depth of the talent and just a good digital native talent pool as well.

“It’s really an up-and-coming metropolitan area.”

Breen said that companies like Genpact see other financial companies, such as Macquarie and Deutsche Bank, coming to or expanding in Jacksonville.

“They see this as a place they need to be,” he said.

Tim Cost, chair of JAXUSA Partnership, said that 17 projects announced over the last several years have created more than 2,800 jobs in the finance and professional services sectors.


Downtown Cowford Chophouse, Florida Blue hiring hundreds

(Courtesy of The Jax Daily Record)

Restaurant holding job fair, insurer filling temporary positions

The Cowford Chophouse, Forking Amazing Restaurants Inc.’s new Downtown steakhouse, will host a job fair next week.

Chophouse will interview candidates for front- and back-of-the-house hourly positions as well as management jobs.

Applicants can apply in person from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at 301 E. Bay St.

A spokeswoman did not say how many employees will be hired or what they will be paid.

Cowford Chophouse is under construction at the former Bostwick Building at 109 E. Bay St., at Bay and Ocean streets.

No opening date has been set.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., also known as Florida Blue, announced Thursday it will add 600 temporary contract positions in Jacksonville.

The jobs are part of 800 temporary positions statewide that will help during the health insurance open-enrollment season, which begins in the fall.

Florida Blue spokeswoman Toni Woods said the jobs would pay $14 to $16 per hour, based on experience. Candidates also could make bonuses.

All are full-time positions for telephone health-plan sales and support.

Jobs start in August and September and should conclude in mid-December.

Woods said the ideal candidate would have either a 2-40 state Health Agent License or 2-15 state Health & Life Agent License.

Jacksonville-based Florida Blue is considering applicants without those licenses, which Woods said the company would train if they “demonstrate drive and aptitude to succeed in a sales role.”

To apply, visit floridablue.com/careers.

LenderLive saves over 250 jobs in Jacksonville

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

LenderLive Network LLC., a mortgage services provider, has reached a definitive agreement with PHH Mortgage Corporation to assume its private label fulfillment operations in Jacksonville.

In late 2016, PHH announced that it would exit the private label fulfillment business, and this agreement is expected to facilitate a smooth transition for both PHH employees and clients.

All the appropriate parties, including the board of directors of PHH and LenderLive, have approved the agreement.

Under the agreement, PHH will outsource loan processing, underwriting and closing activities to LenderLive until the contracts with its current clients served out of Jacksonville have been transitioned and/or completed. LenderLive has agreed to service these accounts from the operations center in Jacksonville and to hire approximately 250 to 300 employees of PHH to work out of that location.

“We are excited about the opportunity of adding a significant number of talented mortgage professionals and establishing a new operations center for LenderLive in Jacksonville,” CEO of LenderLive Rick Seehausen said. “The arrangement accelerates our long-stated imperative of driving scale and operating leverage in our private label Mortgage Solutions business. We look forward to welcoming our new associates and demonstrating the benefits of our platform and business model to PHH clients. This is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Meet Jacksonville’s 2017 Ultimate CFOs

(Compliments of  Jacksonville’s Business Journal)

The Jacksonville Business Journal introduces the 2017 Ultimate CFO honorees. The role of the CFO has evolved. Not only do they encourage and adapt to changing business models, but ensure core accounting and reporting duties are maintained to the highest level. Additionally, CFOs are managing people, systems, and technology infrastructure in an increasingly scrutinized regulatory environment.

Congrats to all of our 2017 winners!

Financial Services

Nicole Stokes – Ameris Bank

Health Care

Joe Matacia – Smart Pharmacy

William Ryan – UF Health Jacksonville

Chuck Divita – Florida Blue

Lydia Veal – Optimum Healthcare IT


Scott Harris – Safariland

Charlie Wodehouse – Bluegrass Materials


Michael Seeraj – Pine Castle

Real Estate

Jonathan Heldenbrand – Sleiman Enterprises


Kenneth Allen – First Coast Energy/Daily’s


Christopher Getz – CTI Resource Management Services, Inc.


It’s official: TIAA completes acquisition of EverBank

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

TIAA notified the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday that the acquisition of EverBank Financial Corp. and EverBank has been finalized.

The filing comes after the Federal Reserve Board approved the transaction June 7.

The New York-based financial services company, a leader in retirement options for educators, announced its $2.5 billion acquisition of EverBank in August 2016. It has given assurances that the headquarters will remain in Jacksonville.

EverBank CEO Robert Clements has said he will now retire.

Clements joined EverBank in 1994 and has served as Chairman and CEO since 1997. He managed the bank as it grew into the largest in Florida based on assets of more than $27 billion. Clements will continue to serve on the new bank’s board of directors.

Blake Wilson, EverBank’s president and chief operating officer, will serve as the new bank’s president and CEO. Wilson has been a part of EverBank’s executive team for the past 15 years.

Kathie Andrade, CEO of TIAA’s retail financial services business, will serve as chairman of the board of the new bank. She will also continue in her role as CEO of TIAA’s retail financial services.

The merged company possess $282.4 billion in total assets and deposits of approximately $23.3 billion.

The acquisition is seen as a catalyst for the growth of the bank.

“I think this is going to have a substantial and positive impact on the EverBank that we know today,” JaxUSA President Jerry Mallot said when the merger was announced. “The purchase was done intentionally with the opportunity for growth.”

Morgan Stanley to curb veteran adviser recruiting

(Courtesy of Reuters.com)

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company's world headquarters in New York, U.S. April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company’s world headquarters in New York, U.S. April 17, 2017.


Morgan Stanley, the biggest U.S. brokerage by head count, told brokers Tuesday that it is standing down from the expensive recruitment wars, following similar steps taken earlier this month by competitor Bank of America (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch.

Morgan Stanley, which has more than 15,000 brokers, will “significantly reduce experienced adviser recruiting,” according to a staff memo from Morgan Stanley co-heads Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein that was viewed by Reuters. The news was reported earlier on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

Merrill Lynch announced that, starting in June, it will no longer offer new prospects or recruits big upfront bonus checks to join its firm, a common and costly industry practice.

For years, brokerage executives have complained about the ceaseless competition among Wall Street firms to offer ever more lucrative recruitment packages to gain top advisers and their clients and assets.

The offers included a substantial sign-on check, plus a l bonus paid out over seven to 10 years based on sales and growth targets. They were used as the primary way to expand wealth management businesses, but critics said recruitment costs often outweighed returns.

Morgan Stanley will honor any approved recruitment offers made and in the “pipeline” by June 16 for brokers who are set to join the firm on or before Sept. 1, according to the memo.

UBS AG’s (UBSG.S) Wealth Management Americas last year announced plans to curb recruiting.

Jacksonville-based OnPay Solutions recognized with Fintech award

(Compliments of Jacksonville Business Journal)



OnPay Solutions, a nationally accredited AICPA service organization headquartered in Jacksonville, has been named by CIOReview as one of the “20 Most Promising Corporate Finance Tech Solution Providers” by an industry publication.

OnPay Solutions offers turn-key accounts payable payment automation solutions that integrates with any ERP and accounting or accounts payable workflow system. OnPay’s technology also greatly reduces accounts payable costs and fraud risk and can turn a company’s payables into rebates revenue.

 “OnPay Solutions is shortlisted as one of the 20 Most Promising Corporate Finance Tech Solution Providers 2017 by CIOReview magazine based on its expertise in providing innovative software solutions and the ability to delight customers and facilitating return on investments through strategic relationships, services and programs,” said Jeevan George, managing editor of CIOReview.

“By moving from costly paper check to automated electronic payment methods such as ACH, or single-issue virtual credit card for vendor payments, costs are reduced, time is saved, risk is minimized and efficiencies are maximized,” said president and CEO of OnPay Solutions Neal Anderson.

ePayments issued via OnPay Solutions’ systems provide greater security by directly linking a company’s accounting system to their bank for payments. OnPay is grateful for the honor, but they know there is work to be done.

“To us this award means we are being recognized for creating positive and streamlined change for organizations that can really make an impact,” COO of OnPay Solutions, Juliet Negrete-Anderson said. “Moving forward we must continue to talk to businesses about how they can better there business processes, reduce their costs, and reduce their fraud risks.”

Fidelity National Financial sells a subsidiary for $560M cash

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Jacksonville-headquartered Fidelity National Financial announced Monday it had signed an agreement to sell one of its subsidiaries for $560 million in cash to a New York-based private equity firm.

Fidelity purchased One Digital Health and Benefits about four years ago. The Atlanta-based company then purchased two Jacksonville-headquartered companies: Compass Consulting Group and Prospective Risk Management in June 2015. The company maintains an office in Jacksonville at 4348 Southpoint Blvd.

The company that has agreed t purchase One Digital is New Mountain Capital LLC.

Fidelity said it would use the proceeds from the sale to pay off debt. After all option payments to shareholders and minority equity investors are paid, the company expects the sale to result in $330 million in cash.

“We are excited to monetize One Digital at an attractive price for our shareholders and recognize a cash monetization of approximately $330 million,” said Fidelity’s Chairman William P. Foley II. “We have seen tremendous growth in One Digital in our roughly 4 year ownership and are proud of the success One Digital and FNFV have enjoyed together. We believe that One Digital will continue to flourish under its new ownership.”